Social Question

rojo's avatar

In a formal dining setting, is it gauche for a left handed person to re-arrange the silverware to better meet their needs?

Asked by rojo (14583 points ) 1 month ago

If you are a lefty in such a setting do you do this? Or do you just make the swap during the meal with each course as needed? Or, have you learned to use your utensils the “right” way as my father was forced to do as a child?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

50 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

I don’t think it’s gauche, but I’m not left handed, and I don’t travel in the social circles where people would ever use the term “gauche”.

But I do think there is some irony in your use of the word “gauche” in the first place.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Ha. Gauche. Very good.

If I were host, and I saw that my dinner guest had moved their glassware to the left, I would certainly notice and quietly inform my staff to assist in the reversal and to begin serving that person their liquid refreshments form the left and their food from the right, in reverse of tradition. If I’d known ahead of time where they would be sitting, I’d have reversed their setting for them ahead of time, and my staff would know what to do. Anything less would make me a poor host.

If I were the guest, I would rearrange my setting the way that is best for me as a lefty and quietly inform the nearest service staff of my wishes. This could be accomplished simply by a discreet wave to the staff member, then pointing down at the setting in a counter-clockwise motion. They would see the reversed setting, understand immediately, and acknowledge with a nod.

Coloma's avatar

I’m a lefty and yes, why not? Better to rearrange the cutlery than to attempt to feed myself with my right hand, that wouldn’t be a pretty sight, more like a palsy victim, break out the bib. lol
On a side note, just gotta bitch a little about stupid pens on chains in the bank…extremely annoying.

JLeslie's avatar

I often let the lefty sit on the end of the table so they won’t knock elbows with the person next to them. I see nothing wrong with switching the flatware on the plate to accomodate someone who is left handed.

My mom had one crazy teacher who didn’t like my mom writing with her left because all the pencils were slanted one direction in the classroom when all the kids were writing except hers. I mean really, are we going to go back to that sort of ridiculousness?

I’m not sure if my mom cuts with her right or left? I know she uses scissors in her right and stirs when she is cooking with her right. When she eats with a fork only she uses her left. Maybe she cuts with her right and keeps the fork in her left? I have no idea. Doesn’t matter.

GloPro's avatar

Interesting. Strictly speaking for a formal dining setting and proper etiquette, and not necessarily what makes sense or what I agree with, you do not swap your silverware.

Proper left handed etiquette decrees that you swap hands individually underneath the table for each course.

Have fun with that.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@GloPro Hmm. That is horrible.

I would do it my way and we would have “The World Turned Upside Down” playing in the background. I would never force my guests to behave as if their left-handedness, or anything else about them, was something to hide. Absolutely unacceptable. I don’t ask my friends to dinner in order to humiliate them.

canidmajor's avatar

I saw this question in a newspaper etiquette column a few months ago (can’t remember enough details to find and link it, sorry) and the official answer was that the lefty simply pass the appropriate utensil from right side to left hand for each course, thus causing the least amount of fuss.
I think these days it doesn’t really matter unless it is an ultra-formal occasion, but if you got that invite to dine with the Queen, this should do just fine.

I, too, love the “gauche” reference! :-)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s no problem with me if they want to switch.

GloPro's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Me, too. But he asked what is considered gauche, so I did some proper etiquette research, and not just gave my opinion. I am most likely gauche in most situations.

This was asking about formal dining only, too. I imagined 5 star quality, which would never be at my house or me specifically hosting. Those of you that are hosting such fancy dinner parties, kudos! Mine are mostly informal to the max.

JLeslie's avatar

I just realized the question was rearrange the flat wear at the place setting. That I would not do. As I said, to switch it on their plate while using it is fine, but I would not move all the forks to the right and the knife and spoons to the left for the place setting.

Judi's avatar

looking up the word “gauche”- lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated and socially awkward.
The purpose of etiquette is to make everyone feel comfortable. A hostess/host shouldn’t mind at all and a great host/hostess would remember that the person is a lefty and rearrange the silverware at the lefty’s designated spot.

canidmajor's avatar

@Judi: “gauche” is the French word for “left”. :-)

Judi's avatar

HA! That’s funny. I just googled gauche and etiquette definition.

Coloma's avatar

It’s also important for us lefties to take a seat at the end of the table, otherwise there’s going to be a lot of bumping elbows with the right handed person to your left. haha

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

That has to be a most sinister way to get to the head of the table, @Coloma!

Coloma's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Hey, handicapped people get to sit in the most convenient place. lol

canidmajor's avatar

And in the spirit of the use of the word “gauche”, it could also be considered “sinister” to do so… ;-)

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@canidmajor Yes. Thank you for that. ^^Edited.

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma I already said the bump elbows above. :) For whatever reason I am not surprised you are a lefty. That’s a good thing in my mind.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, I noticed your sharing after I posted the bumping elbows.
Yes, you know what they say about lefties, not sure if it’s a sign of genius or a birth trauma. lol

canidmajor's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus: I just now saw your comment up there to Coloma…sorry! The hijack of your joke was unintentional.

gailcalled's avatar

I would not call it gauche but adroit. We have so many lefties in the greater family that we often run out table ends. Then it’s just jab, jab, jab.

GloPro's avatar

@gailcalled Couldn’t you have lefties all on one side of the table, righties on the other? No jabbing that way.

canidmajor's avatar

oooh,“adroit”...better and better! :-)

cazzie's avatar

I would much prefer the lefty move the cutlery around instead of using their finger and/or thumb to load their fork. Blech.

marinelife's avatar

Yes. Rather than moving the silverware, you should just pick it up from where it is.

canidmajor's avatar

Really, it wouldn’t take that much dexterity. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

JLeslie's avatar

I want to point out that right handed people in America are supposed to hold their fork in their right hand when lifting the food to their mouth and the forks are on the left in the place setting. If they use a knife then they are using the fork in their left, but then they switch to the right. So, righties have to switch around, probably more than lefties. Most people don’t use a knife for everything. I see tons of American who don’t know how to hold their knife correctly, much less use it to get their rice on the fork.

GloPro's avatar

@JLeslie You are absolutely right. The link I posted above explains the two fork holding methods: the European and the American. American style developed about 40 years ago and is described as you have above. European style involves the fork always staying in the left hand (so lefties should be comfy with European fine dining), and the knife only being set down when the need for drinking arises. For windy diners to sit there, perched over their plate with both hands full of utensils, seems so odd to me. So that explains the reason for the layout of the silver. Americans just haven’t gotten around to rearranging it yet. Much like using feet and inches, and miles per hour, I’m sure we’ll get around to it.

cazzie's avatar

I’m in Europe, and we eat with both our knife and fork in our hands. My fork is in my left and my knife is in my right, so I don’t know what @JLeslie is talking about. American’s simply lack table manners. http://experiencelife.com/video/how-to-use-a-fork-and-knife/

longgone's avatar

^ @cazzie
@JLeslie is saying that only Europeans use both hands throughout dinner. Americans typically put the knife down when they are not using it, then go on to hold the fork in their right for convenience.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie I usually eat the European way, but we agree many Americans don’t know what they are doing at the table. My husband just cannot believe how many Americans cannot hold their utensils properly. The fist old on the fork and knife just always has him shaking his head. I think I asked a Q about it once. Or, maybe I just talked about it on a Q before. It was a long time ago.

When I use a fork alone I use my right hand. The only time I use a fork alone is eating pasta like penne or farfalle as a meal or something similar when there is nothing to chase around the plate or cut. Sitting on my sofa watching TV I wouldn’t bother with a knife necessarily either, but I might cut the food before I sit in front of the boob tube. LOL.

@GloPro It seems odd to me to not utilize the knife to aid in getting food onto the fork. Some foods it is not at all necessary as I mentioned above, but most foods I eat it is. I’m not talking about the American switching hands or the Europeans not, I am just saying it is stunning to me how many Americans don’t even know how to use a knife. Switching or not doesn’t faze me one way or the other.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie I have very good table manners and use knives appropriately, however….I am not allowed to drink wine before a Ginsu prep moment, very dangerous for a left handed right brained blonde. I have slashed and stabbed myself on numerous occasions while in Ginsu wine mode. lol Likewise, take away all matches, lighters and candles, I’m an absent minded firebug too. haha

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma Haha. Well, that’s a different sort of using a knife. I’m glad you don’t take the any Ginsu risks anymore.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Last time I slashed myself was trying to remove the pit from an avocado, you know that cool little maneuver where you use the hatchet move to impale the seed and lift it out? Well…bloody avocado. haha

GloPro's avatar

@Coloma I’ve stabbed myself clean through my hand trying to pit an avocado. I’ve altered my method now, but that was a shocker. It all happened so fast, and I saw first hand (har har, pun intended), how easily a knife goes right through you. Lucky for me I missed all nerves and bone and it was clean on both sides. They put a little wisk brush through it to clean it (that sucked), and butterfly bandaged and nu skinned it. No stitches, yay!

Coloma's avatar

@GloPro Oh man, I know, and the delayed pain reaction, takes about 30 seconds for the pain to hit. I had to get 10 stiches across the knuckle of my flip off finger. Last year I drove a garden stake into the side of my hand. haha

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

There will be no knives at table tonight. The service staff will be glad to do any necessary carving for you.

gailcalled's avatar

We can also have the surrogate mommy standing by, ready to cut your meat.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

The one in the cute little French outfit.

gailcalled's avatar

You mean, like this?

jca's avatar

Haha 1940’s wartime! LOL!

GloPro's avatar

Shall I cut that for you?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@gailcalled No! God, that is so no-sex-please-we’re-British! I’ve been convinced for a long time that the British upper class infatuation with spanking and potty jokes comes directly from being raised by women dressed like that.

Coloma's avatar

I prefer my meat cutter to a handsome young man in a bowtie and g-string. lol

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@Coloma I’ll have Chippendale’s send over their catalogue for you to choose from during cocktails.

JLeslie's avatar

I cut the meat for my husband when I make him lunch to bring to work, just like a mommy.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Awww…do you give him little juice boxes too and cookies and a note? lol

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Now,now,ladies.

JLeslie's avatar

No juice box. It’s a pain to cut the meat when it is inside the container, you can’t angle the flatware properly. Most people take a sandwich or salad to work, I make him a dinner basically. Most days, not always.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther